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Recognizing How Little Things Make a Big Difference

Please join us in congratulating Rebecca Rothney, founder of Pack for a Purpose, as she has been recognized for her efforts and has been chosen as one of the ten Travelers of the Year by National Geographic Traveler.

I actually received an email in my inbox on a Saturday morning informing me that I was a finalist. At first, I thought it might be spam, as I had never applied for the award, but of course it was not spam,” said Rebecca Rothney after sharing the news with us that she was being recognized as one of National Geographic Traveler’s top ten travelers of the year. As she waited to hear the final results, Rebecca tried to think positively. In a few days, 10 out of 1,000 entries would be chosen for their passionate and purposeful traveling; their stories would soon be shared with millions of readers across the globe. When she received the email informing her that she had been chosen, she jumped up and down in joy and ran around the house with complete abandon. “I could just imagine all the new Pack for a Purpose travelers that would result from the article and the positive impact they could have for communities around the world.”  

Since 2009, Pack for a Purpose has inspired travelers, us included, to leave a little extra space in our bags for needed supplies in the communities we are visiting. They have helped facilitate the movement of 28.5 tons of needed supplies to more than 300 community projects in 62 countries all over the world. All of it started with a simple idea and unending commitment.   

Look for Rebecca's story and the stories of the other inspiring travelers on National Geographic Traveler's website and in “Travelers of the Year: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things in their Travels Around the World” in their November 2014 issue.


Press Release

For more information, contact:

  • Rebecca Rothney
  • Pack for a Purpose
  • 919-844-9998


National Geographic Traveler names Rebecca Rothney a 2014 Traveler of the Year

RALEIGH, NC, OCTOBER 9, 2014 National Geographic Traveler announces Rebecca Rothney as a 2014 Traveler of the Year. Rebecca is the founder, chairperson and driving force behind Pack for a Purpose, a non-profit organization that makes it easy for travelers to pack requested supplies for community projects at their destinations across the globe.

Selected from among a thousand global entries, the 2014 Travelers of the Year program celebrates 10 individuals who travel with passion and purpose. These travelers have exceptional stories to tell, and represent styles of travel, motivation, or methods that inform and inspire us all.

“To be recognized along with such an outstanding group of individuals as a 2014 Traveler of the Year is truly an honor,” said Rebecca Rothney. “I hope this accolade from National Geographic Traveler motivates many more travelers to add value to their vacations, making sure the trip they take goes much farther than the miles they travel."

What started as a small idea—encouraging travelers to use extra space in their luggage to deliver supplies to communities that need it—has truly grown into a movement. Rebecca has put her heart and soul into the success of Pack for a Purpose and the results of her efforts are evident. From its beginning in December 2009 through August 2014, the non-profit organization has facilitated the delivery of over 28.5 tons of needed supplies to more than 300 community projects in 62 countries all over the world.

Rebecca has a lifelong passion for sharing different cultures. Rebecca first traveled overseas at age 11 and never looked back. She has visited 45 countries and all 7 continents.

She worked as a middle school teacher of European and non-western cultures for 12 years and as an entrepreneur, manufacturing cufflinks made from postage stamps from her extensive travels. As a member of the International Affairs Council in Raleigh, NC, (now a part of International Focus) for 26 years, Rebecca has hosted for dinner in her home over 450 visitors from around the world and has served on the board of directors for 12 years.

The story “Travelers of the Year: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things in their Travels Around the World” will appear in the November 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler.

About Pack for a Purpose

Pack for a Purpose is a non-profit, based in Raleigh, NC, that makes it easy for global travelers to donate much needed supplies to the local communities they plan to visit. Pack for a Purpose provides online lists of requested items and more than 440 global collection points making it simple for travelers to make a difference on every trip. Since their inception in December 2009, the global travel community has donated more than 57,000 pounds of supplies to needy schools, clinics and orphanages worldwide. By simply adding a few, school supplies or medical supplies in their luggage, these travelers have made a big impact.

For more information about travel locations, lists of needed supplies and ways to get involved, visit

About National Geographic Travel

National Geographic Travel is the travel arm of the National Geographic Society, one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations, founded in 1888. National Geographic Travel creates, discovers and showcases meaningful and engaging travel experiences through National Geographic Traveler magazine; National Geographic Expeditions; travel books; maps; apps; digital travel content; the Adventure website; and travel photography programs. National Geographic Traveler (eight issues per year) is the world’s most widely read travel magazine and has 14 international editions. It is available by subscription, on newsstands in the United States and Canada, and digitally for tablets.National Geographic Expeditions, the travel program of the Society, offers a variety of unique travel experiences led by top experts to more than 60 destinations across all seven continents. Travel opportunities include family and student expeditions, active adventures, private jet trips and voyages on the six expedition ships in the National Geographic- Lindblad fleet, as well as photography workshops, expeditions and seminars. The National Geographic Travel digital group offers inspiring and authoritative digital travel and adventure content such as trip ideas, photo galleries, blogs and apps. National Geographic Travel Books bring readers curated travel advice and inspiration. Follow National Geographic Traveler on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Learn more about Rebecca's story.

October 9, 2014

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